I’m sorry but the whole “New Year, New You” bullshit is bullshit. Don’t let 2015 rob you of the badass superstar you were in 2014! Just because you indulged over the holidays doesn’t mean you need to “renew” yourself. That being said…there is a difference between the “new year, new you” concept and the “I ate a few too many pieces of cake and now need to eat better and get my ass to the gym” concept. I totally understand and support the concept of New Year’s resolutions and “resets”. So if you spent all of 2014 in mall parking lots flashing people, got arrested for lighting your boss's house on fire or smushed a few too many ice cream cones in small children's faces...maybe you should reevaluate your life and embrace the "new year, new you" (or just stop flashing your naughty bits to strangers, lighting things on fire and killing the hopes and dreams of small children). However, if you were simply crushing peppermint oreo flavored whatevers and slingin' booze on your one horse soap and sleigh, then pat yourself on the back for a holiday well-celebrated. If the latter suits you more, let's go ahead and tackle this from the perspective of using the New Year to refresh and set some goals.
With every January 1st comes a flash flood of statements regarding diet and fitness. In the social media world, I’ve seen a whirl wind of posts regarding “clean eating” and “paleo resets.” Many people kick off their new year with a Whole30 or 21 Day Sugar Detox challenge, where they eat very strict paleo for the month of January to reboot and reset. But a paleo reset in 2015 can be hard! Distinguishing that fine line of where to start and what habits to change can be blurred. For example, when I’m not amidst a strict paleo cleanse, I incorporate things like Justin’s Maple Almond Butter, and Trader Joe’s plantain chips into my diet. While essentially paleo, those items are not strict paleo and do not fall under the parameters of programs like Whole30 due to the maple sugar or sunflower oil. So things like that, which I will enjoy from time to time in my "normal" state, are hard to look past when “cleansing” or tightening up my paleo screws for a period of strict detox. Feel me?
I've only been paleo for a year now (so still a newbie!), but the few times I've embarked on strict paleo resets, I've preferred to follow the 28toLife template, created by health and wellness trail blazer, Cristina Gillespie (who, not coincidentally, also happens to be my inspiration to go paleo in the first place). 28toLife focuses on a diet strictly comprised of real, whole foods. It eliminates the typical paleo no-no’s (grains, dairy, legumes) as well as sugars (even the paleo-approved ones) and alcohol. It is a FANTASTICLY effective method of cleansing your body of the junk and getting the nutrients your body needs. I promise, you’re not deprived of delicious food with this program and you’re never left hungry! To learn more about 28toLife, visit Cristina’s site here (she's also got some face meltingly good recipes on there...be sure to check 'em out!).
SO, the point of this post is to offer some humble advice when starting a paleo reset. Whether following 28toLife, Whole30, 21 Day Sugar Detox, etc… these tips will help get your mind right and meet your goals for the start of 2015!
1. “Detox” your pantry and fridge. By this I mean throw all the junk away. Go through your pantry and fridge, identify the items that are not a part of your cleansing program and toss it. Out of sight, out of mind.
2. Shopping spree. Ok, I’m not encouraging you to go ham on your wallet…I understand that “budgeting” also makes its way onto many New Year’s resolutions lists. But what I am suggesting is taking a trip to the grocery store and stocking up on the paleo staples that are common in and vital to flavorful paleo cooking. Prepare yourself with things like:
- Flavorful spices (cayenne, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, cinnamon, etc…)
- Coconut milk
- Shredded coconut
- Nut butter (with no added oils or sugars, etc.)
- Nuts and seeds (raw or dry roasted - no added oils, sugars, etc.)
- Chicken stock
- Grass-fed butter
- Olive Oil
- Coconut oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Coconut aminos
- Tomato sauce, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes etc. (for things like homemade marinara!)
- Frozen berries
3. Plan yo’ meals. Meal planning is key. Make a list of the meals you want to make throughout the week. I recommend planning out all of your breakfasts and then 3 or 4 dinners that will yield enough food so you have leftovers for lunches (particularly if you are a working caveman or cavegal since most of us don’t have the luxury of cooking our own lunches in the office). If you have plans to eat out at any restaurants, do some research and check out their menus online to see what paleo options they have (or how you can paleo-fy their meals…aka “no bun” or “add avocado”, etc.). When you plan ahead, it more often than not spares you from the temptations to break your paleo stride.
4. Props for meal prepping. In addition to meal planning, meal prepping can be immensely helpful in your cleanse. Choose a day where you don’t have much going on (for me that’s Sunday) and COOK! Prepare your meals for the week (if not all of them, maybe just a couple to get you started).
- Slice up your veggies so you can quickly grab them when you need them throughout the week (example: slice up 3 bell peppers and one onion and store it all in a container in the fridge – now you can eliminate veggie prep in your morning omelet…just grab a handful of pre-sliced veggies and toss ‘em in the skillet).
- Cut up some pineapple for a fresh fruit snack when you’re craving something sweet!
- Cook up a pound of bacon in the oven and keep it in the fridge for an easy microwaveable component of your breakfast (baking bacon ahead of time is the best – only take 30 seconds in the microwave to rewarm and recrisp).
- Shake up a mason jar of basic salad dressing to last you the week over salads (suggestion: add 1/3 cup olive oil, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, 1-2 tsp dijon mustard, 1 tbsp lemon juice and a few pinches of garlic powder to a mason jar and shake up for a nice light dressing).
5. Get some new ideas! It’s easy to get caught in the humdrum of making the same old recipes. Which can get boring. I mean, one can only have a chicken breast and spinach salad so many times before throwing their hands up and throwing in the paleo towel altogether. Go ahead and get a fun paleo cookbook or check out some blog recipes to get creative ideas. Going out of your comfort zone can be a fun way to realize and experience how truly delicious and satisfying the paleo diet can be.